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Being locked in

by Matthew Ondesko, Owner

Photos: West Seneca West baseball

A lot can go through a hitters mind as he stands on the on deck circle. If there is nobody on, a batters mindset is different than is the game is on the line.

Either way, a batters needs to be locked in at the plate at all times. They need to know what the situation is, and what there coaches want them to do.

West Seneca West High School baseball player Ryan Vanderlip has been locked in at the plate all season long. Him being locked in starts with his preparation before he stand sin the batters box.

“Going through my mind in the on deck circle is what I need to do according to the situation. How many runners are on? How many outs? How hard is he throwing? How’s the umps zone?,” stated Vanderlip. “I make sure to talk to my team about what the pitcher is throwing.”

Vanderlip has been locked in all season at the plate. One of the big reasons for his success is that he makes sure he works the count. Vanderlip just doesn’t going up there hacking at the first pitch.

He has a game plan every time he goes up there. He knows exactly what he wants to do and that has led to his success at the dish. What makes his season more impressive is that he is doing it in the three hole.

Vanderlip knows he won’t be seeing a fast ball right off the bat, especially if there are runners on base. He needs to be patient at the plate. He needs to wait for his pitch, and when he gets it, drive it like he knows how.

“To me it starts with my approach when I’m on deck. I focus on getting into good counts that can make me a more confident hitter. In the three hole you’ll see a lot of first pitch off speed, which I lay off of. I sit fastball and react to an off speed pitch and focus on hitting the ball to right center,” stated Vanderlip. “The most important part of any at bat is how you adjust with one and two strikes. I’m a guy that always crowds the plate but with two strikes I choke up on the bat and move up in the box, and I’ve found a lot of success hitting with two strikes on me.”

Vanderlip credits a lot of his baseball success to West Seneca West coach Jeff Helmbrecht. Helmbrecht knows the game of baseball. The longtime coach just recently earned his 100th victory of his career.

He is a teacher of the game, and has the passion that rubs off on his players. As a freshman, Vanderlip was a little intimidated of Helmbrecht at first.

“Coach Helmbrect and I share a passion for the game of baseball and I think that’s why I have so much respect for him,” stated Vanderlip. “Coming in freshman year I was definitely scared of him a little but I was always willing to learn and get better. He has taught me how to be mentally tough and has taught me things beyond just the fundamentals of baseball.”

Vanderlip has also turned into a lead over his years with WSW baseball team. Besides batting in the three hole, Vanderlip has also manned the shortstop position. Being a shortstop is no easy task. You are expected to lead the team on the field. Everything runs through the shortstop.

Vanderlip knows it’s his job to get his tram up for every game. But, wouldn’t change it for anything.

“As the shortstop I know it’s my job to get the boys going by not only being loud in the dugout but leading by example on the field,” stated Vanderlip. “I’s a little bit of pressure knowing you’re what makes the team go but my teammates are very supportive guys and really have helped me through my ups and downs this year.”

He has also put in the work to make himself a better fielder over the past couple of seasons. Being a good fielder means having good footwork. Vanderlip has worked on his footwork to make sure he is in the right position to make the plays.

He also uses his too end speed, and his soft hands to make the keeps plays at the position.

“It has definitely taken a lot of practice to be able to make plays at short with a lot of ground in the infield to cover,” stated Vanderlip. “One thing I prioritize is my speed and footwork side to side to be able to make plays all over the field. Another thing that I think is the toughest part is keeping a steady base and having good hands at the same time which takes a lot of focus.”

What makes his baseball more impressive is the fact that Vanderlip also runs track during the spring season. You often hear of people being multiple sports athletes, but not too often during he same season.

It takes a lot of dedication to be able to play two sports in the same season. The coaches need to be on bored, and they need to know what to give the athlete a day off. Most athletes will just go and go and go, but it’s up the coach to be able to notice and give them a day to rest.

“Competing in two sports this season was definitely tough,” stated Vanderlip. “I prioritized baseball as my main sport and then when I was free to go run a track meet I would. It’s definitely a good feeling knowing you can help both teams. I wish I could be at every event, but I’m happy to have the opportunity to do both.”

Being good at multiple sports has given Vanderlip options when it comes to college. He hasn’t made a decision on what he wants to do at the next level. He is going to use this summer and fall to figure everything out.

“I am still undecided on what sport I want to pursue at the next level,” stated Vanderlip. “This summer and fall will most likely determine whether I want to play baseball or run at the next level.”

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